A man has been arrested for attempting to set fire to a Catholic church in Willoughby, Ohio, and causing severe vandalism.
Eric Beck, a 30-year-old resident of Painesville, Ohio, was apprehended by police early Saturday morning at Immaculate Conception Church.
Police were alerted to the scene around 2 a.m. by a motion alarm. They discovered Beck, reportedly “highly intoxicated,” holding a broken shovel handle and bleeding from his right hand.
He had allegedly gained entry to the church through a chapel open 24/7, leaving a trail of blood throughout the premises.
Beck is accused of causing significant damage to various parts of the church, including a broken crucifix, a knocked-over kneeler, and a smashed candle in the chapel. He also allegedly damaged objects on the altar, a candle stand area, and even attempted to ignite a carpet with hand sanitizer. Additionally, a statue of the Virgin Mary was found knocked over and damaged outside.
Father Michael Troha, the church’s pastor, stated that the estimated cost of the damages would be around $20,000.
Regarding Beck’s actions, Father Troha said, “At first you’re angry at someone who did that, you know what I mean? Like you want the worst to happen to him judicially, but then you see he’s a human being and he’s really suffering now.”
He added that the church is praying for Beck.
Beck, who is not a member of the church, faces felony charges of breaking and entering, vandalism, and arson, with more charges expected. He was arraigned on Monday, and his bond was set at $50,000.